Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lockout is a Burnout

Okay, so I rented the film "Lockout", directed by Luc Besson.  Alas, it was rather poor quality.  The basic premise of the film was fine for a sci-fi action flick: wisecracking hero goes into orbital prison full of psychotic prisoners alone to rescue hostages.  Unfortunately, the screenplay was full of obvious holes and crappy plot devices which made the rest of the film pretty cheesy.  Luckily I rented it at a Red Box so it only cost me $1.06 to watch.

So what if I was to grab this scenario for a one-shot game, say with my Wednesday group?  Well for starters I'd have to modify it for a group rather than a lone hero.  That means ramping up the convict/psycho opposition in numbers and ferocity. Then there's spreading the hostages out in more locations so it's not just about taking one room.  Each hostage holding location would be a unique tactical/environmental challenge, roughly the equivalent of a boss battle.  Then I would make sure that there were particular environmental challenges to overcome while transiting from each hostage location to the next.  Again, each environmental challenge would ensure a unique set of difficulties designed to really test the players as a team.  I would look to design more than one approach to each challenge so the players have options to consider and to ensure that the team is not dependent on having a single player class necessary for a particular challenge.

Another angle I would exploit, which was only briefly noted in the film, was the secret, illegal experimentation on the convicts.  I could use this to throw in some scary mutants.  I wouldn't want to over do it, maybe have one secure section with mutants roaming around--but which the party must traverse to get to something (hostages, escape from the prison, etc.)

As in the film there would also be deadlines to put the pressure on.  A couple ideas are:
  • The corporation owning the prison remotely activates a self-destruct device to eliminate evidence of the mutant experiments, planting false information suggesting the psycho inmates set up the explosion somehow.  The party will find out about the self-destruct countdown and have to decide whether to push on to the hostages more quickly or detour to disarm it, with extra victory points for getting a copy of the incriminating information.
  • Critical orbit-keeping drives are damaged/activated during the initial riot and the prison is now plunging towards the Earth--and of course the massive station will impact in a heavily-populated area below if something isn't done.  The party can try to repair the drives and get the station back on course--or attempt to get the hostages out before the military blows it into tiny bits small enough to burn up harmlessly on re-entry.
 One key design consideration is estimating the minimum time it should take to complete the mission--if you design in too little time from the start then it's an automatic fail.  Give them too much time and the deadline pressure aspect becomes mere story background.

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